I have read a number of Eric Brown's books and in general found them to be a nice addition to my Science-Fiction library. This one is probably the first in a series called "Weird Space" and hopefully it is not a trilogy but a series that can run for longer time.
Eric Brown has created a Universe where humans and an alien race have occupied known space and have fought some wars over boundaries. There is now some sort of "peace" but it is not a friendly one. Into this Universe he then launches a group of smugglers on a government mission to a planet on the other side of the alien territory. We then follow this expedition to a planet and gets to know a far more dangerous enemy than our previous aliens.
The Book is full of new ideas and interesting scenarios but it is also from my point of view a little to "old" in it's writing. There is no feeling that you are following real people into a very dangerous situation. Compare "Star wars" to "Alien". In "Star Wars" we have a great story but it feels like a saga. "Alien" on the other hand gives you that creeping feeling that this could be the real thing.
This does not mean that the book is bad in any way, just that it feels a little old in it's writing style. Same goes for the interaction between people on our starship. The Interaction between males and females is almost wooden at times.
The Ending comes very abrupt and a few more pages would not have been to much.
But the story puts a sound foundation for a future series and since I have also read the next one in the series (Satan's Reach - see separate review) I can tell you that things are improving a lot.
I loved it, a good space opera with likeable characters, clear narrative, interesting if not totally unheard of (rogues being offered to carry a dangerous mission in alternative to severe retribution) situations. I this trilogy can only improve from there. Avery pleasant read!
This book is a real page turner, an old-fashioned "rattling good yarn", with protagonists who are likeable and believable and a truly evil alien threat to overcome. I'm sure Eric Brown enjoyed writing it almost as much as I enjoyed reading it. Stylistically it reminded me of the "pulp" space adventures of the 50s (Leigh Brackett, for example). Can't wait for the next volume of the projected trilogy.